7 Things You Didn’t Know About the New Indian President


India held its 13th Presidential elections this Sunday to elect a successor to outgoing President Pratibha Patil. Former Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee won against former Speaker of the Lower House of Indian Parliament, P.A.Sangma, winning almost 70% of the vote.

Here are 7 things you need to know about the new Indian President.

1. Born in Bengal to a family of former freedom fighters
Mukherjee has a MS in Political Science and History from Calcutta University. After a short stint as a college professor and journalist Mukherjee decided to join the Indian National Congress (INC) in 1969.

2. Used to be besties with the Indira Gandhi
His early success in Indian politics was a result of his friendship with then Prime Minister of India, Indira Gandhi. 43 years later, Indira Gandhi’s daughter-in-law and current President of INC, Sonia Gandhi, was instrumental in gathering support for Mukherjee as a Presidential candidate.

3. He’s a big fish
During his lengthy career, Mukherjee is 78, he was Minister of Defence (2004-06), Minister of External Affairs (1995-96; 2006-09) and Minister of Finance (1982-84; 2009-12). In 2008, while Minister of External Affairs, Mukherjee was instrumental in the implementation of the US-India Civilian Nuclear Agreement (also known as ‘123 Agreement’) under which the two countries have been cooperating to increase nuclear energy use for civilian purposes in India.

4. He’s finance savvy
Apart from his long career in the Indian Parliament, Mukherjee held board positions of governors af the IMF, the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank. He was rated the best Finance Minister in the world by Euromoney Magazine in 1984 and again in 2010 by Emerging Markets.

5. He’s into celebrations
Mukherjee always makes time for the festival of Durga Puja, the biggest festival in Bengal. Mukherjee always visits his hometown of Mirati in Bengal for the five-day festival celebrating the Goddess Durga.

6. He keeps a secret diary
He writers down his thoughts in a personal diary up to page a day. His daughter, Sharmistha Mukherjee, has unsuccessfully tried to convince him to publish, but he insists on his privacy.

7. He’s a good husband.
He knows how to keep his wife, First Lady Shubra Mukherjee, happy. “We are not like today’s couples. We’ve been married 55 years and we haven’t fought a single day,” she says.